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Professor Marian Yallop


My research career began with a PhD work on control of phytoplankton blooms in Thames Valley Reservoirs. From there I carried out postdoctoral work modelling oxygen deficits in the Medway Estuary, UK, studying impacts of eutrophication in the Great Lakes, Canada, and quantifying the utility of nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria as fertilizers of Bangladesh Rice fields. Subsequently I studied for a PGCE at Cambridge University and taught for a number of years. I resumed my research career at Bristol University focusing on the role of benthic microbial biofilms in mudflat sediment stabilization; this work contributing to an impact assessment of building the Severn Barrage. I obtained a lectureship at Bristol in 1993, and was appointed a Senior Lectureship in 2003. More recent work has focused on identifying the functional roles made by various biotic elements (plants, waterbirds, bloom forming algae and benthic biofilms) in polluted freshwater ecosystems in order that we can recommend effective restoration programmes.  In response to recent legislation in the Water Framework Directive and collaborating with the Environment Agency and other UK institutions, we have recently developed predictive tools, using benthic diatoms in biofilms, to assess the ecological status of UK rivers and lakes along a gradient of eutrophication. In the last decade my research has taken me further afield. A recent highlight was the discovery of large blooms of algae growing on the surface of the ice on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The presence of screening pigments in these extremophile species may have important implications for ice sheet melt.  

Topics currently being pursued include:

  • Microbial community succession and metabolic pathways from ice to vegetated soils in response to glacial retreat
  • Impacts of ocean acidifcation on coralline algae
  • Taste and Odours in drinking water reservoirs
  • Ecotoxicology: impacts of anthropogenic stressors including pesticides and nanoparticles on the structure and functioning of biota in freshwater ecosystems.